If you aren’t familiar with my Instagram or blog, we’ve been living in Juneau, Alaska since August of 2015 and in just a few short weeks we will be saying goodbye. We just closed on our new home, making this all finally feel real, so I thought it would be fitting to sit down and write a fun little farewell to Juneau post. As much as I’m ready to leave and start our next big family adventure, I know there is quite a bit I am going to miss about living here. The town is small (roughly 36,000 people) so our lifestyle here is very laid back and pretty quiet. We don’t have to drive far to get anywhere and there is only one main road to get us where we need to go. There is an endless amount of hikes and trails, tons of other outdoor activities, and the views are incredible any way you turn. When deciding where to snap some pics for this post I immediately thought of Skaters Cabin. It was the first spot we fell in love with and was our top choice when deciding where to go on a casual adventure with Hudson. Fun fact: if you’ve been following me for a while now you may remember our “standing” photos of Hudson when he was a baby. Skater’s Cabin is where those originated! It’s also where I first ice skated on a lake, first kayaked, and first saw a glacier.

While we’re reminiscing, I thought I’d write a list of all the things I want to remember about our time in Juneau:

  1. Our first month here we had a GIGANTIC black bear strolling through our front yard (see video)
  2. Hudson went on his first boat ride
  3. I saw the Northern Lights (sort of)
  4. Hudson met his forever girlfriend, Kya, my friend Kiara’s daughter. They were born 2 days apart!
  5. I rock climbed the side of a cliff to explore the backside of Mendenhall Glacier
  6. Hudson learned to crawl
  7. And took his first steps
  8. My first Mother’s Day was spent hiking my favorite Juneau trail, Perseverance
  9. I saw at least one Bald Eagle every single day
  10. I shot my first (and last, totally not for me!) wedding on a boat that sailed to a waterfall
  11. We brought our puppy Luna home
  12. I learned to snowboard
  13. Hudson went ice skating for the first time and totally nailed it (future hockey player you guys)
  14. We celebrated Hudson’s 1st and soon to be 2nd birthday here
  15. Several humpback whales dove under a boat that I was on (scary but awesome!)
  16. We ice skated to the Mendenhall Ice Caves twice
  17. And hiked to them a few other times
  18. Hudson split his forehead open at the library of all places
  19. I shoveled our driveway covered in 18 inches of snow to try and jumpstart labor with Cooper
  20. Best of all, we brought home our baby girl.

I know you’re all here to find out where we’re moving to next but before I tell you, here are a few hints: the weather is similar but not as extreme, we’ll be two hours from the ocean but close to a big river, and the biggest hint of all, there is a tv show named after the city. Have you guessed it yet? Yep, we’re moving to PORTLAND! I have a very long list of restaurants, hikes, parks etc. already put together but please if you have any suggestions for things to do, leave them in the comments below! We couldn’t be more excited to get back to a big city.

I just wanted to quickly say thank you for following our journey through Juneau. We had such a fun time sharing it with you all and hope you continue to follow us as we start this new chapter. I promise the gorgeous scenery doesn’t stop here! If you want to keep up with life in Juneau please follow my good friend Sydney Akagi. Her photos (as I’m sure you’ve seen through my Instagram) are a solid 10. A special thank you to my friends Kiara and Leila for always being there for me and offering to help us in any and every situation. Also, a shout out to my awesome friend, our realtor Jacob Fowler with Turner Realtors, for going above and beyond to help us find our perfect home. If you or anyone you know are in need of a realtor in Portland, Washington or California, I highly recommend them!

Peace out Juneau. Thanks for all of the adventures.

Bringing home a baby, whether as a first time parent or not, comes with a lot of worries and fears. I was definitely one of those mothers that constantly woke up to check on Hudson in the night. By the time I had heard of Owlet Baby Care, Hudson was past us needing one so it didn’t quite fit into our lifestyle anymore but I knew I was going to want something like this for our baby girl. I was thrilled when Owlet recently reached out to me and asked if I’d like to review the product with Cooper. Because the risk of SIDS is unknown, Owlet does not and cannot claim to prevent it, however I loved the idea of the reassurance it could provide me. The technology is essentially the same as the little wraps they put on your child’s finger or toe at the doctor’s office but instead it is designed as a sock and you get the luxury of it made appropriate for the home.

When you first open your Owlet Baby Care package, you will need to choose a sock size (1-3) based on your childs age. From there you will plug the base station into the wall and the sock into the base station to let it charge. While you’re waiting you can download the Owlet Baby Care app onto your smartphone which is where you will find all of your babies info once you’re up and running. When you’re done with all of the setup it’s time to get your baby ready. The sock can fit on either foot (see instructions for how to put it on) and is secured by velcro to keep it on nice and tight. The app will then track your babies heart rate and oxygen level through the sock, providing you with some serious peace of mind. I recommend getting your baby used to the sock before jumping into wearing it just for sleep. Cooper never seemed bothered by it at all but I did start by putting it on her leisurely during the day which might have helped. If your baby is wiggling the app won’t be able to register any of their levels which is to be expected, so it definitely helps to get your baby comfortable wearing the sock! It is designed to be used when your baby is sleeping, so at nap time or during the night.

My favorite thing about Owlet is that I can check everything right on my phone. Cooper currently sleeps in her bassinet next to me so she isn’t far, but not having to get out of bed in order to check on her when I wake in the middle of the night, is a game changer. I get the assurance I need quickly and easily and can drift right back to sleep. In addition to me being able to easily check on her, it is designed to notify me if her heart rate goes too low or too high or if her oxygen levels start to decline outside of the preset zones. The other awesome features I love about the Owlet app are: 1. I love that I can check up on Cooper from anywhere. If I leave her with a babysitter, I can simply put the sock on her and open the app when I’m away to make sure she’s doing okay. And 2. I can have my husband or other family members download the app, give them access, and they can check in on her whenever they have the urge. This is especially great for our parents because they are all the way on the East Coast and are always calling to ask how baby is.

I highly recommend this for any parent welcoming their child into the world. The price may seem steep but I can honestly say if I hadn’t been gifted one for this review, I would have been totally happy with it had I purchased it myself.  As new parents we need something like this to help us relax because constant worrying plus lack of sleep causes an incredible amount of stress. I don’t know about you, but I want to be able to enjoy my time with my child as much as possible and leave the worrying to someone else.

Thank you to Owlet Baby Care for gifting us their product for this review. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

If you’re active on social media I have no doubt you already know a little something about the Ace Hotel & Swim Club in Palm Springs, California. Situated in the Coachella Valley, Palm Springs is home to some of the most stylish hotels and dreamiest architecture I’ve ever seen. It was Ace’s cool Mid-Century Modern motel vibe that sucked me in and I knew it had to be on the top of my list for places to stay when Ashley (@ashleyyheather) and I decided to add this stop to our itinerary. From the moment you check in, you’ll feel like you stepped right into a magazine from the 60’s thanks to their cool retro decor. It’s hard to believe this used to be an old Howard Johnson with a Denny’s. They offer a variety of sweet amenities, including bike and moped rentals in case you want to get out and explore the town, their popular King’s Highway restaurant, and a big event space where you can get married or throw a party. Pet and family friendly, once you stay here, you’ll always want to go back. I’ve broken down a few of my favorite things for you below as well as current prices so you can start planning!

Rooms + Bathroom: The rooms are filled with vintage furniture and old school art prints held up by those big silver binder clips, floored with cement, and walls covered in canvas. We stayed in the “Patio with Fireplace room” so our room featured a record player with cool vinyl plus an MP3 plug-in radio if vinyl isn’t your thing. Despite the 90+ degree weather while we were there, it cooled down just enough to be able to enjoy making s’mores by the fire in the evening. The bathrooms are stocked with amenities from Ruby’s Barbershop and cozy robes perfect for relaxing in after a long day by the pool. I wasn’t aware of this at the time, but I’ve heard if you fall in love with anything in the room, you have the option to buy it and bring a little Ace home with you.

Pool + More: The pool scene is hands down my favorite part. My husband asked me what was so great about a place with temperatures often over 100 degrees and no beach, and this is it. There’s just something about lounging under a cabana, with pool side food and drink service, and dipping in and out of the pool all day that screams “best vacation ever.” I love that you really have everything you need here and if you don’t want to move for a few days you don’t have to! I don’t know about you, but I love being in a vacation bubble every once in a while. Aside from the two pools you will find an awesome vintage photobooth, gym, the Feel Good Spa and several different communal patio spaces complete with comfy lounge furniture and long fireplaces perfect for nighttime gatherings. Be sure to check out the events calendar as the Ace is always hosting some of the best events from pop-up shops, live music by the pool, and bingo at King’s Highway, there’s truly never a dull moment.

Kings Highway + Amigo Room: Lets just say, I often crave Kings Highway because it’s that good! A contemporary menu with vegetarian options, I highly recommend the avocado toast, karma burger, and the ricotta pancakes. We ate here all but once during our stay and never got tired of it. Great service and even better food! Due to Ashley and I both being pregnant during our stay we unfortunately didn’t have a chance to enjoy the Amigo Room but I’ve heard great things! There’s almost always something going on according to their website, including: karaoke, bingo, live music, DJs, crafting and their annual Craft Beer Festival. Needless to say, I’m excited to go back when I’m not pregnant!

Depending on dates – you can find a room for as little as $159 a night. Currently when you use code HOTTOMATO you can get 20% off patio and suite rooms Monday-Thursday when booked between now and May 29th.

 

The #TogetherWeMother series is back and in honor of Mother’s Day this month, we are talking about what our mothers taught us. Find links to the other women involved at the end of this post.
Photos by: Sydney Akagi

Cancer. There is no way to be truly prepared. We learn about cancer fairly early on in our lifetime but aside from learning about it, it really isn’t something we think about often unless we know someone going through it. Honestly, I never thought this disease would be a part of my life in any form which I now know is completely naive. My mom has struggled with her fair share of illnesses over the course of her life but cancer? I won’t go into all of the details but I will say this. My mom is the strongest person I have ever known. She has fought harder than I knew was possible and she’s never given up even when life seems impossible. Hudson and I made frequent trips to visit with her in Chicago while she was going through treatment and I was blown away by how graceful she was while battling something so brutal. She replaced fear of “the big C” word with courage and got through one of the most difficult years she will face in her life. In honor of Mother’s Day this month and for the return of the #TogetherWeMother series I wanted to share five things I learned from my mom during this time.

Laugh – Laugh and keep laughing. It truly is the best medicine and having a sense of humor, in my mind, is the answer to everything. No matter how bad my mom was feeling, or what obstacle she was hit with next she always maintained the ability to laugh often and easily.

Stand up for yourself, always – You are the boss of your life. You know if something is off, you know what’s best for you, and you know who you want to be. Wether you’re standing up to doctors, family or friends, it is important. Your life is too important to let anyone push you around and you need to give yourself the same amount of respect you want to see in return. If something is bothering you, say it. If you don’t think you’re getting the best care, do something about it. Never stop fighting for yourself.

Be positive – Being positive is the key to turning things around! Kind of like that saying “fake it till you make it.” No matter how tough things got for my mom, she was always positive. That really takes a special person, you know? I’ve always tried to see positives before negatives but I now have a much stronger attitude about this. Life is too short to be torn a part by the negatives.

It’s okay to have a hard time – I know the one above is all about staying positive but I think it would be impossible to stay positive if you didn’t allow yourself to have a hard time too. This is probably one of the most important things I’ve learned from her. I’ve always tried to hide any sign of weakness but that really only hurts me in the end. It’s okay to have a hard time and it’s okay to ask for help.

Love yourself – Most importantly, love yourself. Love yourself for who you are on the inside. It is ridiculously easy to get caught up in wanting to look a certain way and comparing our lives to others but that isn’t going to get you very far. Especially when life throws a last minute detour your way. My mom embraced the changes her mind and body went through better than I think I ever could.

I love you mom.

Don’t forget to check out the other women in the #TogetherWeMother series by visiting their blogs below:

I want to start off by saying, you do not have to breastfeed in order for your child to be healthy. And you should not feel guilty for not breastfeeding no matter what the reasoning may be. This is definitely one of those things that always causes a big mess of a debate. And my intentions for this post are not to throw statistics at you, but to share my own experience in hopes of helping even just one mom. I’ve had several new moms message me asking for advice and my experience because holy moly they weren’t expecting it to be THIS hard! Between the pain some women feel, the discomfort, latch difficulties, stress of not producing enough, or producing too much causing more pain, the list goes on. So many questions are asked as well, which can be a bit overwhelming especially to a new mom. Will you or will you not breastfeed? Will you do it exclusively or will you supplement? What are your goals?

Just like with anything in parenting, when making a decision to do something you always have to remember to keep an open mind because it may not go just the way you want it to. And that’s okay! You need to do what’s best for you and your baby. I feel like I hear about so many women beating themselves up over not breastfeeding long enough or not doing it at all and unfortunately I think a lot of that stems from what the community at large expects from you. We can be so quick to judge without actually knowing a persons reasoning. We can get so caught up in strongly believing in a topic that we forget how harsh our words can become and how that ends up effecting people. When I had Hudson I was excited to breastfeed. I felt powerful and motherly as most of you do, I’m sure. Unfortunately this specific bonding time with him only lasted about 6 months and was far from exclusive especially towards the end. If you’re struggling with your milk supply I’m sure you’ve already googled by now and have read that stress is one of the culprits decreasing your supply. Having moved across the country from Florida all the way to Alaska just a few short weeks after Hudson was born, I saw a significant drop and my body wouldn’t give it back, so this time around I wanted to do better.

I thought I’d share a few things I set out to do in order to hopefully make my breastfeeding endeavor with Cooper much more productive and last as long as possible.

Drink LOTS of water. Like a lot. I don’t know about you, but I often forget to drink water all throughout the day. But it is key to producing adequate milk. It’s like growing a garden. Your plants won’t grow if you don’t water them. That’s probably the worst analogy for me to use because I literally kill EVERY plant I own because I forget to water it, but hey it makes total sense. They say you should be drinking an 8oz glass during every nursing session and even more in between. In order to remind myself of this, I set alarms on my phone. I also try to infuse a few pieces of fruit and herbs to make it a little less boring.

Try Fenugreek. This doesn’t work for everybody unfortunately and if you don’t like taking pills you’ll hate this one because you have to take three a day. But the good news is, a nurse recently told me that if you don’t see an increase in your milk supply within the first three days, you won’t see one at all. Definitely worth a try! Note: it makes you smell like maple syrup lol.

Comfort is key. I learned this the hard way. As we drove across the country we tried to find the most inexpensive places to stay since it was such a long trip. One of the nights we decided to stay in a KOA Cabin which was actually really awesome but I had zero pillows while trying to breastfeed a two month old in bed and let me tell ya, it was not fun. Your body does so much better when you’re relaxed and comfortable. I highly recommend a nursing pillow and/or at least two pillows. Aside from you being comfortable in your pile of pillows, comfortable nursing friendly clothing helps. I’m not saying you have to go out and buy clothing advertised as nursing friendly but a lose shirt that you can easily pull up or down or a button down dress go a long way and are things I’m sure you already have in your closet.

Pump regularly. Even if you are a stay-at-home-mom. Pump! This not only helps build your milk supply but you’ll already have some stored if you need to getaway for a bit. I can’t tell you how stressed I get if I need a bottle of milk for whatever reason and don’t already have some ready. Filling your freezer with breastmilk also comes in handy if you do eventually find your supply dwindling down. Plus, if you end up with an excess amount at the end of your breastfeeding journey, you can always donate it!

Good nursing bras. Nothing beats a good nursing bra. I’m currently wearing a few different styles that were sent to me from Bravado Designs and have nothing but good things to say about them! I never thought having a good nursing bra could make a difference until I got these. My favorite one is the Ballet Nursing Bra (the one I’m wearing in this post) because I can just pull it aside rather than clipping and un-clipping. It’s my go-to when I’m relaxing at home or sleeping. I also really love the Nursing Cami as I can throw that on alone with a cardigan and walk out the door easily being able to drop one side and nurse on the go. I’ve also worn the Buttercup Nursing Bra which is a favorite when getting out of the house and the Body Silk Seamless which I love for working out or going on a hike.

A few other things I want to mention:

You will question if your baby is getting enough at some point. Besides the stress from moving, I believe this is one of the main reasons my breastfeeding journey didn’t last long. I constantly second guessed myself which made me supplement more than I probably needed to. As long as your baby has enough wet diapers throughout the day and is gaining consistent weight, your baby is getting what they need from you. Of course, if you have any questions or concerns, it is always best to talk to your physician.

Aside from drinking a lot of water you need to make sure you’re eating enough as well. Here are a few things that are known to help your milk supply – Oatmeal, yogurt, avocado, quinoa, legumes/beans, salmon, leafy greens, lean red meat, apricots, eggs and peanuts. There are also an insane amount of lactation recipes on Pinterest. Check out my lactation board here.

La Leche League International and KellyMom are both great resources when it comes to pregnancy, stages and breastfeeding.

Thanks to Bravado Designs for sponsoring this post. As always, all opinions are my own.
Photos by: Sydney Akagi